If you've taken a look at Google Maps in the U.S. this past week, you might have noticed some changes to the base "Map" layer which shows streets and roads:
Shaded, 3D building outlines in "" view:
Google Maps has added some fantastic detail to the central areas of many US cities. This detail includes building outlines and in many cases a compact 3D representation that will help you to identify the structure, building or sports stadium (Think Sketchup for Google Maps). It's a great addition and really allows you to better identify the surroundings you are viewing, without switching over to satellite view. I would think this would be especially helpful when plotting directions or addresses. While these visual outlines don't cover the entire city, they're a welcome addition to the most structurally concentrated areas of large US cities.
Transit stops marked for some cities - US cities with an extensive transit network (Chicago, New York, Boston etc..) will now notice blue transit markers on Google Maps. The markers aren't able to be clicked upon but do provide station name and in New York for example will show the lines which that station serves. Train (Amtrak) or commuter rail stations are also now marked with a small train icon. In this case the station name is labeled. Most all cities will show these new train/rail station markers, even if a transit network is not established. This should help visitors to a new city who are using Google Maps to plot directions. Google Transit can be used to get more detailed directions (making use of the transit system) in cities where this service is available. These cities include: Burbank, Orange County, Tampa, Honolulu, Duluth, Eugene, Portland, Seattle and Pittsburgh.
What about the Google Maps API? Sorry Google Maps masher-uppers.. these features aren't yet available to those of you using the Maps API.. Keep an eye on the Google Maps API Blog for an announcement though! :)
For some interesting feedback and comments on these new features, check out this blog post from the Washington Post (see comments area). It contains an interesting cross-section of thoughts from people sounding off on the evolution of online mapping, and Google Maps specifically.
[Thanks to: Mike Gilligan, Ted Timmons and Matt King for these tips!]
In other Google Maps News:
Google Maps stickers in the UK are getting noticed - The stickers Google provides to businesses who have listed themselves on Google Maps UK to display in their shop windows have begun to get noticed around the blogosphere. Googlified first mentioned this back in September while Greg Sterling over at SearchEngineLand takes notice recently. Several images of these exist on Flickr.
Businesses can report incorrect data - The D’Technology Weblog (Long a source of interesting Google Maps info) has found a way for businesses to report incorrect data for their listing. Each business listing contains a link (see this one for example) that will let business owners add corrections to the listing. (For more interesting Google Maps posts from the D'Technology Weblog, check out the "Related Posts" at the bottom of this post)